U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Signatures of Environmental Perturbation

Principle Investigator: 

We are characterizing a semi-arid soil microbiome and elucidating its response to environmental perturbation. Building on existing site knowledge, additional data on the organismal composition of the microbiome (metagenome sequencing), and its respiratory activity (CO2 evolution and enzymatic activity) have been collected. We also characterize the molecules in soil organic matter using a combination of high-resolution mass spectrometry techniques, notably Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry. All chemical measurements are made directly on soils or mineral separates obtained from soils. This project demonstrates signature discovery technologies developed previously under the initiative to identify signatures of environmental perturbation to the soil ecosystem.


The benefits of this research directly address the DOE's Office of Science central mission statement: To advance a robust predictive understanding of Earth's climate and environmental systems and to inform the development of sustainable solutions to the Nation's energy and environmental challenges. We seek to identify signatures of perturbation in soils; such signatures will be critical tools to future research designed to more sharply hone our understanding of cause-and-effect processes between the intimately connected biological and chemical components of soils under fluctuating environmental conditions.

Project Staff: 
Vanessa Bailey, Lee Ann McCue, Nancy Hess
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